Along with the onslaught of repeated voter suppression, Georgia voters are also being threatened with physical violence as the runoff Senate races wind down.
Over the course of the weekend on the ground organizers and church leaders have amped up calls for transparency and protection in the face of repeated death threats and misinformation regarding the runoff races on Jan. 5.
A spike in disinformation about the election process in Georgia has prompted online threats against officials, poll workers and campaign staff that activists fear could lead to real-world violence. https://t.co/rPPJgPCxjm
— ABC News (@ABC) January 4, 2021
The threats mount as Donald Trump applies pressure and seemingly threatens Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffenspeger to overturn the election results.
“This weekend, I received several calls from pastors and others who have received threats regarding Tuesday’s run-off election,” Bishop Reginald T. Jackson, an organizer and Presiding Prelate of the Sixth Episcopal District who oversees over 90,000 parishioners. Jackson also leads “Operation Voter Turnout,” a non-partisan coalition that works across different ethnic communities to help engage voters.
Jackson also spoke out against tactics like “line warming” being used against voters to sway their decision while they stand in line to vote. Organizers are also working to feed correct information to voters after false claims amplified by Trump and his supporters continue to make their rounds on social media.
“Georgia law is crystal clear – intimidating voters is a crime. Every possible opportunity needs to be made between now and tomorrow to reassure all voters of the safety of every polling location in the State and to clearly define the specific procedures for reporting any illegal voter intimidation activity,” Jackson continued.
Per @NBCNews : Approx 113k voters who did not vote in the 2020 general election voted have voted in Georgia runoff election so far.
Of that total, 30% are between the ages of 18 to 29 and 40% are Black.
— chris evans (@notcapnamerica) January 4, 2021
The weekend’s threats of violence follow a historic pattern of voter intimidation, violence and death in regards to Black voters and the pains taken to intimidate Black communities from using their votes to evoke change. Prior to this weekend, several Black women poll workers revealed they experienced harassment and threats over Facebook. Color of Change launched a petition encouraging Facebook to set up protections for election workers, where Black women make up a large majority.
After the Nov. 3 election, a poll worker was falsely accused of tampering with mail-in ballots and forced into hiding after his address was published online. A second worker from Georgia was sent a noose to his home, which caused a fiery response from Gabriel Sterling, Georgia’s Voting Systems Manager. In a lengthy speech, Sterling blamed Trump for the vitriol after his refusal to concede and initiating baseless claims of voter fraud.
Undoubtedly there have been countless other threats made towards organizers, poll workers and voters in the wake of the Senate runoff race.
“Fulton County has received multiple bomb threats at polling areas, and this is getting out of hand,” Jordan Fuchs, Georgia’s deputy secretary of state, told ABC News. “It’s one thing to have your opinion out there, it’s another to wholesale make up information about voting machines, staffers — the whole nine yards. It’s just, there’s something wrong. There’s something wrong when leadership cannot come down and say, threats against election officials are wrong.”